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Governor welcomes Guard recruits

MONTGOMERY (AP) — On the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Gov. Bob Riley welcomed recruits to the Alabama Army National Guard and celebrated the Guard's growth after years of decline.

"Your courage humbles us. And it also frightens those who attacked us on 9/11," Riley told the recruits Tuesday in a ceremony at the Capitol.

Fiscal 2006 marked the first year in more than a decade that the Alabama Army National Guard had more people entering than leaving. That positive trend is getting even better for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, Guard officers said at the ceremony.

Col. Glenn Cottles, recruitment commander, said better recruiting bonuses and educational benefits have improved the numbers. He said the majority of the 27 recruits who participated in the ceremony Tuesday were getting the maximum $20,000 enlistment bonus.

Montgomery firefighter Adam Flint Batten of Elmore was one of them. "Money talks, like they say," said Batten, who's married with one child and three stepchildren.

At 29, Batten was older than most of the recruits. Batten said that he was attracted by the financial support and training the Guard offered, and he also wanted to serve the public beyond being a firefighter.

In fiscal 2006, the Alabama Army National Guard reported 2,161 recruitments and 2,120 departures. The net gain of 41 was a turnaround from 2005, when the Guard recruited 1,603 but lost 2,313.

Cottles said the Guard has recruited 1,900 of its 1,959 goal for the year and should end up with about 200 more enlistments than departures.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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